The normal driving time from Fremd to Schaumburg is 20 minutes, but to walk it could easily take a day, maybe more. Fortunately for the members of the Fremd 400-meter relay team, they didn't have to worry about a long walk home.
Just a year ago at the Mid-Suburban West division championship meet, the Vikings lost the baton and the meet to arch-rival Palatine. Head coach Jim Aikens provided the relay members with a little added extra motivation.
"I told them they could get rides home with their folks because I didn't want them on the bus," Aikens said with a smile.
But was he kidding?
"You don't know (coach) Aikens," said relay member and senior Christian Vail. "With coach, anything is possible."
Tuesday night at Schaumburg the Fremd relay held the baton tightly and later grabbed hold of the West division crown with 143 points. The host Saxons were second (119), followed by defending champion Palatine (111) and Barrington (90).
"Last year we dropped the baton in the (400) and we weren't going to do that again this year," Aikens said.
The Vikings team of Vail, AJ McGhee, Jake Lewis and Andy Fiszer ran a nearly flawless relay and held onto the baton all the way, winning in 43.56. It was one of only two event wins from Fremd, but the second-, third- and fourth-place finishes added up into major points.
"We just knew that no one had to go out and be Superman," Vail said. "The guys knew that we needed to go out and get the points. Guys that were the second guy in a race were running personal-best times and putting up great marks and that's how you win a meet like this."
Fremd also captured the 800 relay with McGhee and Lewis teaming with Darius Burchette and Thomas Glassgow for the victory in 1:31.32.
One of the best races of the night came in the 800 run where someof the state's best tangled in Butler-bound Barrington senior Erik Peterson and Missouri-bound Conant senior Tyler Schneider. But it was the efforts of another Conant senior in James Weaver that set the tone.
Weaver took the lead early and battled down the stretch with Peterson, Schneider and Nick Vucovich of Fremd. Into the final 100, Peterson passed the pack and went on to the win in 1:55.85. Weaver, Vucovich and Schneider all popped off season bests and ran under 1:58.
Conant also had one of two multiple event individual winners on the night as Penn-bound senior Ben Bowers captured three titles. Bowers took the high jump with a season best 6-7, the 110 high hurdles also in a season best 14.44 and the 300 hurdles in a quick 39.5. The Cougars also captured the final event of the meet, taking the 1,600 relay over Fremd in 3:28.06. Justin Bowers, Jack Hutchison, Hugh Hutchison and Weaver formed the winning foursome.
Juwaan Richard of Schaumburg was the other multiple event winner. Richard owned the individual sprints, taking top honors in the 100 (10.8) and 200 in 22.3. The Saxons rebounded from a sixth-place finish in last year's meet to win six events and get a runner-up finish this time around.
Juan Montano (discus), Stacey Smith (long jump), Andy Selep (pole vault) and junior Evan Prizy (1,600) were event winners for the Saxons.
Other event winners included AJ Scarbrough and Prentiss Brooks of Barrington in the triple jump and shot put respectively and Peter Tomkiewicz and Kendrick Cornelius of Palatine in the 3,200 and 400 respectively.
Prospect Rules the East
For the third straight time and the eighth in the last 10 years, Prospect captured the MSL East division crown. The Knights won five events on their way to 150.33 points. Rolling Meadows looked impressive in its second-place finish with 123, followed by Hersey (103.33) and Buffalo Grove (99.33).
Junior Dave Kendziera played a big part in the Prospect success by taking titles in the 110 high hurdles (14.8) and 300 intermediate hurdles (39.8). Prospect also took top honors in the 400 and 800 relays and the 200 where Vito Anzalone won in 22.6.
Some of the top performances included Rolling Meadows winning the 1,600 relay in 3:25.5 and Kody Cagwin of the Mustangs clearing an outdoor best 14-6 to win the pole vault. Missouri-bound Buffalo Grove senior Dan Roe ran an impressive 4:21.5 to win the 1,600 and the Bison also took the 3,200 relay in an area best 8:03.7.
Cameron Decoursey of Wheeling took home top honors in the 400 (50.0) and the 100 and Mark Balmes of Hersey won the shot put (55-9) and the discus (160-8).